Published August 8 2017
During Monday night’s meeting, the City Council approved a prohibition on safe injection sites in Bellevue. In a 6-0 vote, the council adopted an emergency ordinance that imposes a citywide ban on safe injection sites, also referred to as Community Health Engagement Centers (CHELs), and other uses or activities designed to provide a location for individuals to consume illicit drugs. Councilmember Kevin Wallace was absent from the Aug. 7 meeting.
“From what we know right now, safe injection sites aren’t the answer to saving lives or reducing drug use,” said Mayor John Stokes. “Many residents have voiced concerns about the possibility of a safe injection site being located near a permanent men’s shelter that we are seeking to site. By banning safe injection sites in Bellevue, we as a community can focus on a more holistic approach to addressing homelessness and finding solutions to this regional issue together.”
The emergency ordinance allows the City of Bellevue to act quickly while permanent regulations are being drafted. As per state law, a public hearing will be held within 60 days.
Since April, councilmembers have expressed a strong interest in pursuing a ban. King County has proposed safe injection sites as a way to address the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. The sites are designed to provide users with a professionally supervised place to consume heroin. In June, the County Council voted to allow funds for the facilities but only in jurisdictions that provide local approval.
Also during Monday’s meeting, the council voted on several agenda items related to the Eastgate Land Use Code Amendment (LUCA) and the Eastside Men’s Shelter and Supportive Housing project, initially proposed for the King County-owned Eastgate Public Health Center property.
Through 6-0 votes, the council approved the Eastgate LUCA and the associated Eastgate legislative rezone. The council also passed another emergency ordinance, effective citywide, which outlines the permitting process required to establish a homeless shelter. As a result, a conditional use permit will be required for shelter uses.
None of the action taken Monday night changes where shelter use is permissible in the city. map of land use districts where shelters are permitted in Bellevue
Similar to the safe injection ban, the agenda item concerning the shelter is an emergency ordinance that the council can implement for six months with the option to extend. Details on the required public hearings will be announced in the coming weeks.